What Causes Car Keys To Stop Working? 7 Possible Reasons


Over the years, with advancements in technology, car keys have evolved from manual locks to contactless keys. The upgradation of car keys has made driving and related processes quicker, more convenient to access, and more accessible. However, it also has some disadvantages; higher replacement costs, vulnerabilities due to electronic hacking, and system slowdowns. Nevertheless, the automobile industry and related fields are constantly developing solutions for such issues without complicating them.

Knowing the type of crucial someone is using and figuring out the reason for the malfunction of their key is vital. This will help solve the problem with or without the help of experts in the field. Let’s look at the different types of car keys and what causes them to stop working.

Car Key Types

At one point, everyone will experience some trouble with their car key. At first glance, different car keys and their locks may look similar. But the fact is that each set of locks and keys is unique. Most of the time, the issue can be resolved without external help. When that is not the case, people can approach an expert like a Los Angeles locksmith for easy and trustworthy services. Understanding the type of car essential someone is using is vital. Let’s look at the three general categories of car keys.

1. Traditional Car Keys


Traditional car keys are the typical type of keys used in the past. They were mostly physical keys, which are similar to keys of locks in the doors of houses. The traditional key engages the car door’s locks and works simultaneously with the car’s ignition system.

2. Transponder Key


The term transponder is made up of two words; transmitter and responder. Here, the key consists of an embedded transmitter, and the responder is built within the car. The transponder set verifies the right hey by exchanging several signals between them. It is then required to ignite the system using the physical part of the key. These types of keys consist of a physical key and a transmitter chip in the bow part, usually secured with a plastic cover.

3. Keyless Entry Remotes


Keyless entry remotes or Keyless entry fobs can be considered tiny remote controls. They use the communication technique in transponder keys but in an advanced method. Several buttons on the remote stimulate actions from the connected car. There is no need for physical contact with a lock and key while using remotes. Push buttons are used instead of the ignition system to start the vehicle.

7 Common Reasons Why A Car Key May Not Work

1. Battery Issues

One of the most common reasons for the failure of remote keys or fobs is their battery dead. So the first thing to check is their battery when remote keys are not working. Lithium-ion batteries widely used in remote keys of vehicles usually have a long life, making it unpredictable when they will drain out. The solution in such cases is to use a spare key or replace the batteries. Usually, people can do this by themselves.

2. Damaged Transmitter Or Receiver Chip


A defect on either part of the transponder, the transmitter or the receiver chip may result in a situation where one can not unlock or lock the car door. Some can only rectify the issue; expert assistance may be required in such cases.

3. Remote Car Key Required To Be Reprogrammed

The transmitter and responder of a remote and car are paired to work together. The synced devices will function with each other only, which is accomplished by programming. Manufacturers may do this before someone brings the car.

In cases like using a duplicate remote key or aftermarket keys, they may not work correctly until reprogrammed. Sometimes, automatic resetting of security systems deletes the embedded program in the lock and key system. Again, this will need professional attention to get a solution.

4. Physical Damage Or Dirt In Key

All kinds of keys are prone to physical damage when not used carefully. Such damages may result in their malfunctioning. Similarly, the internal connections of a remote key may have become dirty, resulting in a faulty key. Physically damaged ones may need replacement or repair, while users can clean the dirt with proper guidance.

5. The Car Lock Is Damaged

Diamond Lock

There are situations when a key can not access the car, even when the problem is not with the key. As the lock and key are always a pair, the issue may be with the car’s lock instead of the key. This can be recognized by trying to use a spare or duplicate key. Only an expert can work with faulty locks. Operating those locks without experience may result in more bad than good.

6. The Ignition Cylinder Is Faulty

People still use keys that directly ignite the system. A key that can not ignite its car does not always mean a problem with the key. Ignition cylinders tend to break down once in a while. Taking help from experts might help to solve such issues in no time.

7. Radio Interference

Radio interference is a rare but possible reason for remote car essential fobs malfunctioning. It may result in fobs stopping their working all of a sudden. In addition, the signals from the fob may interfere with devices like anti-theft alarms and radar detectors. The problem in such a situation may last for a while and will be solved independently.


A faulty car key can cause a lot of frustration for some people. Diagnosing the reason behind a faulty key can help resolve the problem faster and reduce its cost and inconvenience. Understanding the above-mentioned reasons may help to a great extent in situations.

Always know that contacting an expert like a locksmith is always the better option when unsure what to do. Non-professionals trying their luck on repairing a car key, its lock, or even the ignition may result in further damage.

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